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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


by Patricia Brooks

This poem follows my summer trip to D.C., to do a hunger strike (following my successful three-week strike from home last fall) in the galleries of the House and Senate. I ended it because no water is allowed inside the Capitol Building (a glass an hour is required to maintain the body while not eating) and my body let me know it would not go through that again. But by then I was also convinced that there was no way the Democrats were going to take responsibility for this war on their own shoulders while that burden is now borne by the Republicans. I couldn't see a single soul on the floors of either house who would do anything they feared unwise politically. I've been a peace activist all my life, and am now resigning.

Leave me be, America,
I cannot hope
to save you

Your bombs have burst
my eardrums, popped
my nerves like junkies’ veins.
They’re now as numb.

In my youth,
I faced down bigots’
shotguns for
your honor.

Whatever happened
to that honor, America?
Did you trade it
for this power?

Leave me be, America,
I cannot hope
to save you

Two wars ago,
you gassed me on the
steps of your five-sided
house of terror.

Now your gases
poison soils and air
everywhere. What will you tell
the children who get ill?

Will you slap the hands
that reach to you for care?
All our riches cannot
make them well?

Leave me be, America,
I cannot hope
to save you
You keep building prisons
for your forever-slaves and
desperate others. Their walls
are ringed by hired rifles.

No room left for your latest
self-made enemies; you ship them
all off-shore, like the mansions
of those CEOs who own us.

Your first flag of ownership
was planted on the moon, has now
proliferated to the homes of every
frightened patriot and invaded land.

This year, they say, on Hiroshima Day,
some offered our apologies. The reply of
their descendents: now our lust for conquest
has passed to you. Thank you.

I cannot hope…
I cannot hope…
I cannot hope
to save you


Patricia Brooks was Fiction Editor of the Northwest Review during the three years she spent in the MFA program at the University of Oregon. She has published two novels,and had a play produced in Edward Albee's workshop at the Circle in the Square Theater in NYC. Her poetry has appeared in an assortment of journals, large and small.